A little something about me: even at the best of times, pre-pandemic, I’m usually rocking a fairly high level of anxiety and worry. Generally, I cope okay. I have my methods you know?
The problem is that throughout the last year, a lot of my usual coping mechanisms, and the things I would usually do to feel like myself, have been off the table. And months into Lockdown 3 in the UK, I’ve found myself at times spiralling into worry, catastrophising and predicting doom, all with a good helping of shame and self-loathing.
Cut to: Jay Shetty’s book, ‘Think Like a Monk,’ which I’m nearing the end of and thoroughly enjoying. One of Jay’s techniques (in the chapter on ‘Fear’), that I’ve come back to a few times already is this one, aimed at putting worry into perspective:
He asks that you draw a line from 1 to 10, based on things that you’re afraid of. At 10, you’ll have things that to you, are the worst possible thing that could happen. Once you have this, you’re free to plot out the other stuff that’s bothering you.
I should note that the point of this isn’t to minimise what you’re going through, especially as I don’t know what that is. The point is that if, like me, your mind tends to spin out worries like a permanently rotating washing line, making each one seem utterly catastrophic, this could offer you some much-needed perspective.
For me, the worst possible things relate to the death of loved ones, dying in a plane crash etc…. (that’s just me, your own 10 might be very different.) So, when I’m catastrophising, fretting that my writing isn’t good enough, doubting myself before a presentation, stressing out over the potential of an awkward social encounter, it really helps to see that it’s really not so bad. In some instances, situations/problems that were causing me real anguish – things that on their own felt like an 8 or 9 – were more like a 2 or 3 when I actually placed them in scale.
Worry about everything, all of the time, is just so tiring. It can make life feel like a cage. And unless you worry yourself into action (which is rarely the case for me), it helps nothing.
Besides, at some point, I’m undoubtedly going to have to deal with something that does sit higher upon the scale. When that happens, it will probably help to have practised being a little more logical, calm, constructive and less reactive.
Prone to endlessly worrying? Give this a go and let me know in the comments how it goes!
You’ll find more on this technique and a wealth of other fantastic guidance in Jay Shetty’s, ‘Think Like a Monk.’ I can’t recommend it enough!